In an era of people looking to diversify their investments and make the best use of available technology to optimize their financial resources, cryptocurrency has become one of the front runners of attracting investment. Bitcoin was the earliest decentralized digital currency and has retained a significant amount of user traffic. Since its start in 2009, it’s ledger has been open for over 12 years.
A large number of users engage in a process called Bitcoin mining to earn their bitcoins. While mining is generally a process consuming significant time, energy, and power/electricity, crypto enthusiasts and miners have upgraded the devices to solve sizeable computational math problems at a much faster rate.Comparing to supercomputers however surprising it may sound, the global usage of bitcoin has surpassed the supercomputer’s speed. . To Learn More use: Bitcoin Code
How does this happen? Does this mean that the Bitcoin network can be used to solve real-world problems requiring computational capacities more significant than the most powerful supercomputers in the world? This article answers these and related questions, along with explaining why bitcoins are likely not to be considered threatened by the emergence of quantum computers.
How fast is the Bitcoin network?
Bitcoin miners solve complex puzzles to be rewarded with bitcoins. This requires the solving of complex problems, including computational mathematics. Several outcomes since 2013, from various scientists and environmentalists, have confirmed one factor being that bitcoins have been rendered to be faster than supercomputers. This meant that the Bitcoin networks could compute a quintillion floating-point calculations in a single second.
FLOPS measures a computer’s capacity to perform a scientific composition of floating-point calculations. A computer with a performance of 1exaFLOP is capable of executing 10^18 mathematical problems in a second.
In May 2013, the bitcoin network was processing at an estimated speed of 1 exaFLOPS(1000 petaFLOPS) which means the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world were computing at the rate of 0.025 exaFLOPS. In November of the same year, the Bitcoin hashrate went up to 64 exaFLOPS while the 500 supercomputers combined were computing at 0.250 exaFLOPS. A hash is an encrypted string that assists miners in verifying the data which is stored in the block forming the blockchain, a public ledger recording all bitcoin transactions. In 2021, at the time of writing, the average growth rate of the Bitcoin hashrate stands at 257.8%.
Why does this happen?
Supercomputers largely function via big CPUs, capable of processing large data units. A higher GPU increases the computer’s capacity to process many pieces of data simultaneously. Bitcoin miners, however, largely use ASICs. These are application specific integrated circuits, and are designed towards computing a single specific set of related functions. AISCs like the AntMinerS9, can process up to 13.5 trillion hashes per second.
To put things into perspective, the Sunway Taihulight, one of the fastest supercomputers in the world, had a processing power of 93.01 petaFLOPS.With advancements in supercomputer technology taking significant time and investment, and the Bitcoin network functioning on a decentralized user to user connection, it seems that bitcoin would remain significantly faster than supercomputers in years to come, albeit due to their focus on a specialised set of activities they cannot be used for solving various real world problems.